U.S. Army Ranger from Summerville, killed while serving in Afghanistan, to be awarded Medal of Honor

Local News

SUMMERVILLE, S.C. (WCBD) – A U.S. Army Ranger from Summerville – who was killed while serving in Afghanistan back in 2018 – is expected to be honored by President Joe Biden.

Three soldiers, including Sgt. First Class Christopher Celiz, of Summerville, will be presented Medals of Honor posthumously for their actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Celiz died from wounds he received in Paktia Province, Afghanistan, during a firefight with Taliban militants in July 2018.

A release issued by the Department of Defense following his death said that Celiz was given immediate treatment after receiving wounds from a small arms fire, and then medically evacuated to the nearest treatment facility where he died from injuries.

At the time of his death, Celiz was on his fifth deployment. He was serving in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Celiz was born in South Carolina on January 12, 1986. He attended The Citadel from 2004 to 2006. In 2007, he left in good standing to join the army.

According to The Citadel’s list of fallen alumni, Celiz was one of seven killed in Afghanistan. He was also the most recent alum lost to the War on Terror, with the first listed being CPT Patrick McKenna who was killed over Iraq on April 14, 1994.

Celiz would be the 33rd South Carolinian to receive the Medal of Honor. It was most recently given to SCF Thomas “Patrick” Payne for his actions during a 2015 nighttime hostage rescue in Iraq.

While alive, Celiz received the following honors and decorations: Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal (2 OLC), Navy Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medals (4 OLC), Meritorious Unit Citation Medals (2), Afghanistan Campaign Medals with Campaign Star (3), Iraq Campaign Medals with Campaign Star (2), Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, and the NATO Medal, the Ranger Tab, the Sapper Tab, Combat Action Badge, Parachutist Badge and the Marksmanship Qualification Badge Expert-Rifle.

He was posthumously awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, and the Purple Heart.

The Washington Post said the men could receive the nation’s highest honor as soon as December 16th. The White House has not yet made an official announcement.

The other two recipients include Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, who died from burns he received in October 2005 after rescuing six soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter from a burning vehicle that struck an IED near Samarra, Iraq, and Master Sgt. Earl Plumlee, a Green Beret who played a pivotal role in fighting off a complex suicide attack at FOB Ghazni, Afghanistan, in August 2013.

Congresswoman Nancy Mace, who also attended The Citadel, released the following statement:

“SFC Christopher Celiz, a Summerville native and former Citadel cadet gave the ultimate sacrifice in the service of our nation in 2018. Because of his heroic deeds, Sgt. First Class Celiz will be posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. He is a true patriot, who was previously awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, and the Purple Heart. The Lowcountry is incredibly proud of its native son who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country and in defense of our freedom. We are grateful for the service of our men and women in uniform, beyond measure. Today, and every day, our hearts are with Sgt. First Class Celiz and his family.”

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